Your local animal control facility or humane society shelter has a number of wonderful dogs, any of which would make a great companion for your family. However, choosing a dog from these shelters should be done with serious thought and preparation to make it easier to integrate the animal into your family habits and home. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when choosing a dog from the shelter.
Consider the Dog’s Size
That big dog with the lovely, glowing eyes and wagging tail can steal your heart, but keep in mind the practical considerations to ensure you can care for such a large animal. Shelters take back thousands of dogs from individuals who have underestimated the needs of their chosen animal. If you live in a small home or apartment, a very large dog may make your living quarters even more cramped. In addition, if you are older or have a health condition, a large dog may be difficult to exercise properly or to manage his or her physical care, such as helping them get into the car, giving them a bath and other types of normal grooming and maintenance.
Gauging the Health of Shelter Dogs
Most shelters work with local veterinarians to have their charges examined for common problems. They are usually vaccinated, treated for worms or external parasites and are given a clean bill of health. However, it is still your job to give potential adoptees a thorough visual examination to ensure the animal’s health. The dog should be free of discharges from the nose, ears or eyes. The coat should be clean and healthy-looking. The dog’s skin and paws should be clean and free of eruptions. The animals should be alert and enthusiastic. Even animals that are on the shy or quiet side should be alert and aware of everything going on around them. The dog’s gait should be even and strong. If all of these features check out, you can be reasonably sure you have a healthy dog.
Keep in mind that the adorable little fluffball you’ve found at the shelter will need regular sessions at the groomer to keep that coat neat and healthy. If you cannot afford regular grooming costs in your monthly budget, look for another animal, one with a shorter coat and easier maintenance needs. However, if you are the type of person who is willing to learn a few basic grooming techniques yourself, the fluffy-coated animal can still remain on your list of potential options.
Good With Children
If you have young kids at home, you should be especially careful about the animal you choose to join your family. Some dogs, especially smaller animals, are wary of being stepped on or manhandled by young children. They can become snappish and timid. To determine if the dog can be comfortable with children, come back to the shelter with your kids and spend some time in the play area to see how the dog interacts with them.
Questions From the Shelter Workers
Some people are surprised and discouraged by the sometimes-probing questions from the shelter’s adoption counselors. Please remember that these counselors are dedicating to making good matches between animals and adopters, and try very hard to keep down the number of “failed” adoptions that end up with the return of the animal. You may be asked about your work schedule, the number of people in the household and ability to provide veterinary care. You may be asked for a copy of your lease to ensure that your landlord will allow pets in the property. You may also be given a number of samples of dog products and advice on getting your new dog adjusted to your household. All of these measures are to ensure that both animal and people are happy with the adoption.
Adopting a dog from a shelter can a satisfying and rewarding experience that helps an unwanted animal and provides a loving companion for you and your family. Keep these tips in mind and you will choose the right dog for your needs.
My life-long love of pets turned into a dream career in 2005 with my husband John. We had met that same year at a pet store. Together we created the happy pooch. A site dedicated to dogs being happy. We are proud to be dog owners and want the best for these animals!